Choosing The Right Content Management System

Choosing The Right Content Management System

Time Icon 12.17.2012Tag IconSystems

When selecting the perfect Content Management System for your business needs, there are many things to consider. Is the system secure? Is it scalable to the level of traffic your site has? Do you have in-house people to help you manage it, or do you need a Service Level Agreement (SLA) with a vendor who can handle it all for you?

In this article, we’ll discuss two critical aspects of choosing the right CMS for your business, so you can make an informed decision.

Who is Going to Run This Thing?

While some people understand CSS and HTML more intuitively than their native language, these tech wizards are often hard to come by. When you ask fifty people if they consider themselves to be tech-savvy, probably forty-five of them will say yes. However, their version of tech-savvy and yours probably aren’t the same.

Some people think it’s a big accomplishment just to set up a LiveJournal page. (Not that there’s anything wrong with LiveJournal, but it does tend to give a skewed idea of how Content Management Systems behave because it’s designed for people who aren’t tech wizards.)

Finding someone who can work both the front-end content and back-end management may require bringing in a full-time IT person, depending on what you choose as your Content Management System. In the next section, we’ll dissect some of the more popular CMS offerings on the market and weigh the pros and cons of each.

Types of Content Management Systems

You’ll hear a lot of people defend their preferred content management system with passionate advocacy. These systems are designed with different users and functionality in mind, so it’s better to do your own research. Here are five examples of the top CMS’ (both open source and commercial) and what’s great, and not so great, about them.

Open Source Content Management Systems (Free)

Drupal - Content Management System

Drupal

Drupal is by far one of the most robust and dynamic open source CMS’ ever created. Unlike other CMS platforms that just sort of “happened”, Drupal was well thought from the very beginning. The modular nature of Drupal, it’s clean code and community of elite developers makes one of the more desirable CMS’, especially for enterprises looking to build out medium to large scale web applications at a minimal cost.

While Drupal delivers a rock-solid framework for developers, it’s not the most user-friendly of all the open source CMS platforms. There is a steep learning curve if you are do-it-yourself type. If you happen to have a ninja on staff, Drupal can be great. If you have a budget to hire a Drupal master, even better. If not, this isn’t the content management system for you.

Joomla - Content Management System

Joomla

Joomla is a decent enough content management system that offers a wide range of options to create just about any type of website you would ever want to build. If you’re good at coding / programming, Joomla can be extended to do just about anything that Drupal can achieve, minus some of the more resource intensive API integrations via web services. That is not to say you can’t do it, but rather you would not want to do it. The problem with Joomla is that you spend twice as much time to do things that are fairly easy / straight forward in Drupal (or just a custom application in LAMP) as you have to program around Joomla’s sometimes (and often) tedious hooks.

An experienced Joomla developer will tell you there are many things that are less than ideal about Joomla’s code base. Joomla was a fork of the now all but abandoned Mambo project and as someone who has worked with Joomla! since the Mambo days, many of it’s shortcomings are related to the “front-end” heavy approach of Mambo.

I could go on for days about the shortfalls of Joomla!, but ultimately it comes down to this: Time and Money. If you could spend less time managing your CMS, less time programming and configuring modules, components and other elements of the build, you will save more money. I know the Joomla people are going to hate me for saying this, but I generally try to steer most people away from Joomla! in favor of Drupal, WordPress or something completely custom in LAMP if at all possible.

Wordpress - Content Management System

WordPress

WordPress is probably the most intuitive Content Management System on the market, offering a “paint-by-numbers” setup that even the least experienced noob can wrangle with very little instruction. WordPress’ extensive community, massive plugin library (which is sometimes a gift and a curse on client websites) and overall ease of use make it the most popular CMS on the planet by a large margin. It is no mystery that we love WordPress here at AXZM, it is our weapon of choice for smaller (to medium sized) builds. I would suggest without hesitation that most small to medium sized businesses use WordPress, it is clearly one of the best open source Content Management Systems for publishing and managing content available.

With that said, WordPress has it’s drawbacks too. If you have a site with tens of thousands of pages and highly dynamic features, WordPress may present a bottleneck at some point. You might defer back to Drupal or even a completely custom development if your requirements are “enterprise grade” in nature. Another option is to use WordPress as a front-end glue for enterprise websites, where only the presentational layer is in WordPress with the more robust applications running in the background in a completely different platform altogether.

Commercial Content Management Systems (Paid)

Kentico

Kentico

If your company has a sky’s-the-limit budget, Kentico offers many excellent security and management options for your content management system. It’s designed to be easy to set up, use, modify, and set permissions for. (This keeps people on one side of the site from messing up things on the other side by posting in places they shouldn’t be.) The biggest drawback to Kentico is the price tag. Basic service starts at $1,999 a year, while enterprise-level services run a whopping $14,999 a year. It has some cool features and it’s easy to use, but it can be hard on the wallet.

Sitefinity

Sitefinity

The pricing for this content management system is in line with Kentico’s, but Sitefinity’s Standard option makes you pay big bucks for just about everything as an add-on. The functionality isn’t terrible, but its laundry list of added fees makes this one a dubious prospect for a company with limited resources.

I have to be honest here after working with Sitefinity for a few years: RUN. It costs too much and takes way too long to do even the most basic things. I am not talking anything advanced here either – stuff like changing title tags and meta descriptions can take 4-5 minutes, not 30-45 seconds (like WordPress or Drupal) and that adds up to a lot of IT resources (and money) over time.

Putting It All Together

Only you can really know what content management system will best suit your business’ needs. What may be optimal for one user may not for another. It’s important to pick a CMS that customers can access and your content people can modify easily without compromising site security or design integrity.

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